My generation is in this weird situation for the first time in history, we are the first generation that has grown up with the internet. The next generation (the kids born in the mid-late 90s and onwards) have always known the internet, some of them will never know the sweet sound of a dial up tone or the joy of nailing HTML on your MySpace profile. Some would say we’re privileged to have the world at our fingertips, but I’d like to question it right now.
For me both my job and my main hobby involve being online, particularly logged into Twitter and Facebook pretty much 24/7, many would be jealous and think this was the coolest thing ever, however, it’s not so. As with anything you need to enjoy it in moderation and over the past few weeks I’ve chosen to take a step back from my personal use of social media in order for me to spend more time in the real world and to focus the time I’m working online.
Taking a step back from your personal use of social media is incredibly difficult when you start to think about how many of your friends use it as their main communication method and the sense of community you feel from being part of a Facebook Group or Twitter conversation, when you’re offline there’s definitely that fear of missing out feeling. But what about the impact it has on your offline relationships and personal time?
I know I can’t put my phone down most of the time due to either constant notifications or the feeling that I need to tweet and Instagram every tiny detail of my not so exciting life. Sometimes, it’s fine, sometimes I must come across rude and sometimes I’m missing the real offline experience of something because I’m too busy looking at how nice someone’s holiday is that I barely know.
The other issue is that social media gives individuals this unique insight into other peoples lives which we’ve never had before and often people that you don’t know in real life and may not even ever meet. You end up comparing yourself to others so much more than you would normally and it’s generally a breeding ground for jealousy and anxiety, from teeny tiny things like – why doesn’t my hair look like that? To bigger things like – why wasn’t I invited to that party? Or wish I could afford to go on holiday there! It’s all a bit weird and I don’t think we often step back and think about how this could negatively impact us.
This isn’t a blog post about social media being bad for an individual though, everyone is different and everyone finds some value in the internet for sure. What I want to talk about is how I’ve been trying to find a balance in my online vs. offline world and how I think others may benefit from thinking about that balance.
Anyway, have been talking to a few people about this issue over the past month or so and my friend, Simon Caine wrote this blog post about it and it got me starting to make positive changes to the way that I have digital as part of my life.
Finding a Balance
As I mentioned before, it’s about find a balance. Knowing when to turn off social media completely and making the most of the time that you do spend online. That balance is going to be different for everyone, but here’s what I’ve done to get on the road to digital detox.
Facebook is evil, we all know that. How many hours a day do you reckon you waste just scrolling up and down your timeline looking at stuff that isn’t really enriching your life? I’d reckon it’s more than you’d care to admit!
First thing I did was a good old fashion (and overdue) Facebook cull, I unfriended loads of people that I’ve either not really spoken with in a few years, people that I don’t really know offline and don’t have a strong online relationship with, people that I just don’t know, anyone who is generally a pest too (don’t know why they were still on there anyway!). This is the thing, sometimes you end up randomly adding people for so many reasons, connecting on Facebook is the next swapping mobile numbers after all. Immediately I felt my profile was more private and my timeline showing more quality content from people that I actually cared about hearing from.
Next up, I unfollowed all the groups that I don’t need to see everyday. I’m still a member so can pop in when I feel the need, but it now means that my timeline is much cleaner and has a lot less distractions in there for when I am logged in. For the first time in YEARS I’m seeing content that I 100% want to see.
Delete the annoyances, whenever you see anything pop up in the timeline that is annoying or something you don’t want to see, hit the drop down arrow and you can choose a number of options which will improve your Facebook experience.
Twitter, Instagram and the Rest
These are generally the networks I really enjoy personally as well as using them for work. The best thing I did here was learn to turn off notifications on my phone when it’s not essential. If I’m working on my laptop, my phone has no internet, so I’m not wasting time looking at two sets of notifications and don’t have the extra distraction of scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram.
I’m also making an effort to just stop looking at social media in the evenings unless it’s for a genuine need or choice. So when I’m watching a film, phone internet is off and laptop is away, when we nip for a quick pint in the local pub, the phone stays at home and we have the BEST conversations.
Give it a go!
So yea, that’s why I’ve been quiet on the internet recently and it’s so far making a huge difference to life, more time and energy for things that really matter and time and energy to think more about offline life too.
I still love social media and digital and it’ll always be part of my life and I’ve made some great friends from it too. What I want to do now is to maintain a healthy balance for me and see what can be achieved from that.
Do you think you have a online/offline balance? Do you think you need a digital detox?
Would love to read your comments below or on Twitter, when I’m online 😉 @JayneKitsch.